Over the last decade, airlines have become more strict when it comes to luggage allowances, according to USA Today. That’s especially true for carry-on bags. “Airlines have become more strict in enforcing carry-on rules,” George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com said. “The three majors now have that 22 by 9 by 14 inch rule and have been known to enforce it to the inch in some airports at busy travel times, occasionally at the gate, but sometimes even before entering the TSA security lines.” There’s also an international carry-on weight limit of 40 pounds enforced by most airlines.
Weight is a factor in checked luggage too. Allowances vary by carrier, though many major airlines have limits in the 40-50 pound range. Some, like Easy Jet, Spirit, and Ryan Air, are much lower, while others like Aer Lingus and British Airways allow up to 70 pounds. Even cruise ships sometimes impose weight restrictions, usually around 50 pounds per bag.
A study by media and technology company Morning Consult found that overhead storage comes only second to legroom on the list of things travelers care about. Still, in 2017, United launched “Basic Economy,” a fare class that that does not allow full-size carry-on bags. The New York Times reported that 45 percent of fliers said they would buy a basic economy fare, despite the more limited baggage restrictions.
With fares like these and new luggage restrictions, how can travelers make sure they’re within the weight limit? Investing in a luggage scale is one of the easiest ways to avoid hassle and extra fees at the airport. United, Delta, and American Airlines charge $100 for overweight baggage, while Air Canada charges $75. Most airlines charge at least $50. Many luggage scales only cost around $10, making them a smart investment, especially for the frequent traveler.
Here are some of our top picks:
1. Samsonite Manual Luggage Scale
This traditional scale is simple and affordable. The face is large, making it easy to see the numbers, which are shown both in pounds and kilograms. It also has an included tape measure to help you make sure you’re under the dimension requirements as well as the weight.
One downside of this scale is that it only weighs up to 80 pounds, so it won’t work for bags that are far over the limit. Because it’s not digital there are no batteries or glitches, but the lack of digital numbers could be an issue for those who don’t like reading a needle.
- Easy to use
- Comes with a tape measure
- Reliable brand
- No digital numbers
- The hook can’t grip larger bags
- It only weighs up to 80 pounds
2. Camry Luggage Scale
The Camry scale has a capacity of 110 pounds and is accurate to within 0.1 pound. The screen has a clear, easy-to-read LCD face that also tells you the temperature both in Fahrenheit and Celsius. One unique feature is that it lets you start weighing your bag at zero, then add and weigh each item individually, so you know what’s taking up the most weight if you need to discard items.
The handle is designed to be ergonomic and easy to grip, but it does require lifting your luggage, which could be a challenge depending on how heavy your suitcase is. One reviewer mentioned having to stand on a stool to lift her luggage.
According to Amazon reviews, the scale has proven to show the same number as airport scales. Plus, it comes with a strap that attaches to almost all suitcase handles, making easy to bring along in case you overload on souvenirs and need to weigh your luggage again before returning home.
- Easy-to-read screen
- Doubles as a thermometer
- Ergonomic handle
- Allows for individually weighing items
- Requires you to lift luggage
- Runs on a battery that requires replacing, not recharging
3. Fosman Backlight Luggage Scale
This stainless steel digital scale has a backlight, making the numbers even easier to read. It has a capacity of 110 pounds, and can be switched between pounds, kilograms, ounces, and grams. The battery indicator alerts you when the battery is running low and it has a simple on/off push button.
Reviewers commented on its small size and durability, which make it easy to pack in your luggage without worrying. The strap hooks around the handle of your luggage, then you lift the suitcase up and get a reading on the weight. Like other handheld scales, lifting the luggage could be difficult for travelers, but the fact that the strap hooks all the way in means luggage won’t slip off, as it can in hooks that don’t clip in. The scale comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
- Backlit easy-to-read screen
- Small size and low price
- Limited lifetime warrantee
- Runs on a battery that requires replacing, not recharging
- No tape measure or additional features
4. Smart Weigh Heavy Duty Luggage Scale
If you regularly pack oversized luggage or the thought of lifting luggage with a handheld scale doesn’t seem realistic, then the Smart Weigh Heavy Duty Luggage Scale is for you. It’s a floor scale, like the ones you use to weigh yourself, but has a cord with a digital reader attached, so you can see the weight even if your luggage covers the entire surface.
The scale is 10.6” x 10.6” and made of stainless steel. Reviews say it is durable enough for many uses with heavy luggage. This scale can also weigh higher weights than most–up to 440 pounds/200 kilograms.
The scale runs on an internal battery or off of a USB port. While the reviews are overwhelmingly positive, one user did mention that it needs to be reset to zero every once in awhile.
- Does not require lifting
- Can be used for boxes as well as luggage
- Has an extended digital reader on a cord
- Can weigh up to 440 pounds
- Not easily transportable
- Pricier than other luggage scales
- Sometimes needs to be reset
5. Urbo 3-In-1 Luggage Scale
The easy-grip 3-In-1 luggage scale comes with a few cool features, as the name suggests. It’s a scale that can weight up to 110 pounds/50 kilograms, thanks to a durable strap that clips around your luggage handle. The bright LCD screen makes it easy to see the reading, which according to reviews is accurate within a few tenths of a pound.
It’s also a flashlight with a 60 Lumens LED torch, which can be useful when traveling–one reviewer mentioned she took the scale on a scuba trip and the flashlight came in handy when traveling after dark.
Perhaps its most useful feature aside from actually weighing luggage is its external battery, which has2600 mAh of power and can be used to charge mobile phones. It also has an auto-off feature and warns you via an alert light when the battery is low. It comes with a USB charging cable as well.
- Includes a flashlight
- Doubles as a phone charger
- Durable and easy to read
- Can’t weigh more than 110 pounds
- Color might not be appealing to some users
- Requires lifting luggage
6. Habor Luggage Scale
The Habor scale is simple and affordable. It weighs items from 0.02 pounds/10 kilograms to 110 pounds/50 kilograms and shows the reading on a backlit screen. An ‘H’ appears once the reading is set, so you don’t have to wonder when it has hit an accurate point. The screen shuts off after one minute without use to save power.
It also has a tape measure to help make sure your bag fits the airline’s dimension policy. The scale weighs 3.5 ounces, so it can be added to your luggage without putting you over the weight limit.
One reviewer mentioned that for the price it was a great buy, but can only be used with luggage, not boxes or items without a handle. The Habor scale doesn’t have as much of a handle to grip onto as other scales, but that makes it smaller. It’s also one of the most affordable scales out there.
- Shows a symbol when weight is set
- Includes a tape measure
- Shuts off to save power
- Can’t be used with items that don’t have a handle
- Requires lifting luggage
7. Balanzza Mini Scale
If you travel with carry-on luggage only and are looking for something that can save space while still helping you not go over the baggage limit, this is the scale for you. The scale is compact, yet has an ergonomic design that lets you grip underneath easily to lift your luggage, which is held by a very durable strap. You’ll know when the weight is calculated by the beep it makes, and can see the reading on the backlit screen on the top of the scale.
It runs via a rechargeable battery and comes with a mini USB cord, which can all be wrapped up and packed easily in your carry-on. The scale weighs 3.2 ounces and is 4 x 1.2 x 1.6 inches.
While the reviews are mostly positive, some users had issues with the battery not working after three months or so. The product has a five-year warranty.
- Compact size
- Ergonomic and durable
- Beeps when weight is set
- Rechargeable via included USB cord
- Battery does not last long
- Cannot weigh luggage more than 110 pounds
- Cannot weigh anything that doesn’t have a handle
8. Victorinox Digital Luggage Scale
The Victorinox scale is one of the pricier on the list, but it comes with an extra battery, which helps make up for some of it. One user said the first battery lasted two years and was still going strong, while another noted that the price was worth the quality and customer service. It can weigh up to 110 pounds/50 kilograms, and also shows weight in grams and ounces.
It has a simple, sleek black design branded with the Victorinox logo. The LCD screen lights up once the weight has been calculated, and turns off after 90 seconds. It’s 5 x 2 x 1.5 inches and weighs 0.12 pounds/1.76 ounces. Like many scales, it uses a strap to weigh luggage.
- Comes with an extra battery
- Power saving screen
- Victorinox is known for customer service
- Small size
- More expensive than other options
- Can only weigh things that have a handle
- Cannot weigh more than 110 pounds
9. Dr.meter Electronic Balance Scale
While this is technically a fish scale, we’re including it because it’s affordable and has a few features that make it useful for travelers as well. One, the fact that it’s charged using AAA batteries (it comes with the first set) makes it easy to buy batteries and recharge almost anywhere in the world. Two, it’s small and comes with a tape measurer, helpful for luggage dimensions. It’s also great for those who do more outdoor travel and actually will also use it to weigh fish and other items.
The metal hook is one flaw when it comes to luggage, as larger handles might not fit. However, for backpacks (even large camping backpacks) and most carry-on bags, it works well. The hook folds into the scale, making it easy to pack away without it getting stuck on anything.
It can weigh up to 110 pounds/50 kilograms within 5 grams of accuracy. The LCD screen is night-vision enabled, and it shows a smiley face when the weight is set. It turns off automatically and comes with a full 12-month warranty.
- Batteries are easy to restock
- Simple and affordable
- Has multiple uses and includes a tape measure
- 12-month warranty
- Does not have a strap
- Not as easy to grip as other scales
10. Tarriss Jetsetter Digital Luggage Scale
The Tarriss scale operates like many on the list, but comes in a sleek stainless steel rather than plastic or rubber. The manufacturer says the steel helps it last longer. It also has a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.
It weighs up to 110 pounds/50 kilograms and is accurate to within 0.2 pound/0.1 kilogram. There’s a capacity overload indicator to make it easy to tell when you’re over the weight limit. The screen has large numbers, making it easy to read, but it does not have a backlight–the manufacturer says this helps the battery to last longer. It shuts off automatically after 30 seconds, has a low battery indicator, and comes with a long-life lithium battery.
One user who was impressed with the scale’s price and accuracy tested it by weighing dumbbells. “It’s so simple to use I just had to test it for accuracy. I have several sets of dumbbells laying around in my office, so I weighed them all. Every one weighed within the .2 lbs of its labeled weight,” he said.
- Capacity overload indicator
- Durable steel design
- Screen is not backlit
- No additional features
Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.